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Minimalist Decorating Tips

Take a few tips to revamp your home.

| January/February 2004

  • Minimalist decorating doesn’t have to be cold and unyielding. The addition of a fluffy rug to this room softens all the hard edges.
  • As this serene kitchen demonstrates, space is a powerful force in design. Extraneous furnishings block energy.
  • As this serene kitchen demonstrates, space is a powerful force in design. Extraneous furnishings block energy.
  • A clean, uncluttered bone structure—walls, floors, and windows—contributes to a home’s charm.
  • As this serene kitchen demonstrates, space is a powerful force in design. Extraneous furnishings block energy.

We all respond to the ineffable quality of charm in a person or a home, but it’s hard to pinpoint the elements that create it. Sometimes it’s just there. In fact, qualities we admire in people—honesty, integrity, and intelligence—are also the elements of charming interiors. Everyone can create a home with those qualities. It’s all about getting down to the basics, the “good bones” of design.

We’re not talking about structural changes. The only tools you need are your five senses, a pad and pencil, a friend—and a basic understanding of a few simple concepts.

Just right 

If you’ve ever visited Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond or some other authentic log cabin, you probably noticed how the basic dwelling is perfect and complete in its own simple way. This is the charm of just right and just enough, the most fundamental rules for good bones.

How can you assess the just right of your own home? First, think about how you live; your home must be equipped for your life. If you love to read, you need a comfortable chair and ottoman, a good light properly placed, and a table for your book and a mug of tea. These are simple, fundamental requirements, but how often are they optimally fulfilled?

Take out your pad and paper for an exercise that will give you the key to the just right aspect of design. Walk through your home and make a list of the things you love about it. Include your favorite objects as well as more intangible features, such as the view through a window or the refreshing “feel” of your new stone-floored bath. Locked within these objects and spaces and views is the spirit of your home—its charm.

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